15-Years Ago Today, Bentt TKO 1 Morrison - A Classic Come From Nowhere Win!

Tommy Morrison29,10.08 - by James Slater -- Exactly 15-years ago today at The Civic Centre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, heavyweight star and supposed future megastar Tommy Morrison suffered a sensational 1st round TKO defeat. The man who landed the punches, the previously largely unknown Michael Bentt, came from nowhere and arrived on the big stage with one heullva bang!

Morrison, nicknamed "The Duke" due to his being a very distant relative of the great movie star John Wayne, had just beaten the legendary "Big" George Foreman to become the WBO heavyweight champion. Now making his second defence of the belt he'd out-pointed Foreman to win four months previously, the 24-year-old Morrison appeared to have completely recovered from the savage KO he'd suffered in his fight with "Merciless" Ray Mercer back in 1991. Tommy, 38-1(31) was about to find out, however, that although he had reached the top with the Foreman win, his chin was still a suspect one.

British-born Bentt, then just a 10-1(6) fighter as a pro, was seen by practically everyone as nothing more than a tune-up opponent for Morrison. Tommy had a huge $8 million payday with WBC champ Lennox Lewis in the pipeline, but decided to take a warm-up bout first. Big mistake! A huge underdog, due not only to his lack of a recognisable name but also due to the fact that he'd been KO'd in a single round in his pro debut back in 1989, Bentt was about to provide a sensation.

Morrison came out on the attack, looking for an opening through which to fire his lethal left hook. Bentt looked relaxed and loose, but was soon hurt. A right uppercut got his attention, as did a follow-up left hook to the head, before another left hook had him sagging along the ropes. The crowd was screaming its approval and a quick win for "The Duke" seemed imminent. But then, as he was under more pressure from an overeager Morrison, Bennt landed flush with a superb right hand counter to the head. Down instantly, Tommy was badly hurt. He beat the count okay, but wore a dazed expression upon doing so.

Wasting no time at all in going for the finish, the older man by four years sent Morrison crashing for a second time. Up a little slower this time, and now looking even more bewildered, Tommy was all but totally gone. He'd got up on instinct only and was now nothing more than an inviting target. Bennt accepted his invitation and reeled off yet more hard and accurate blows. Down for a third time, his punch resistance now totally gone, Morrison was stopped on the three knockdown rule. It was lucky for him the rule was in effect, for had the fight been allowed to continue, as it may well have, Tommy would have taken even more hurt. The official time was just 1 min and 33-seconds of the 1st round.

His unreliable chin having let him down again (there was certainly nothing wrong with Tommy's heart and guts), Morrison was now out as a Lennox Lewis opponent. Bentt, with his sensational upset, had, in effect, cost Tommy $8 million!

Still, as big a splash as he'd made on the world stage, and as quickly as he'd made it, Bentt took no time in disappearing back into almost total obscurity a single fight later. Beaten in 7 rounds by a then undefeated Herbie Hide the following March, Bentt hung up his gloves soon after and has never fought since. His final record reads just 11-2(6). I say he disappeared into 'almost' total obscurity, because Bentt has appeared in one or two movies, Michael Mann's "Ali" most noticeably. Bennt, as some fans will recall, played Sonny Liston.

As for Morrison, he again regrouped, got himself a decent winning streak and then won by stoppage in a mini-classic with "Razor" Ruddock in 1995. Later that same year, Tommy finally got his (by now non-title) fight with Lewis. Stopped in 6 rounds, "The Duke's" career continued only sporadically from then on. However, at age 39, Tommy fought and won as recently as February of this year.

The Bentt loss was only the second of three defeats his somewhat underrated career saw. And to this day, no-one has ever beaten Tommy Morrison as quickly.

Article posted on 30.10.2008

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